Lawns have been the brunt of social snubbing for years. It seems ironic that such a humble, hardworking plant should suffer the scorn of gardeners. The stigma of admitting you love your lawn in the presence of fellow gardeners is akin to letting it slip out that you like to dance in a room full of Baptists. It is strongly implied “in the literature” that “real” gardeners don’t care to grow lawn. If they are growing it, it is only because they haven’t dug it up yet to plant “real” plants. And, above all, they surely don’t waste any time taking care of this pariah of a plant.
However, as gardeners we regularly modify and nurture our environments for the sake of beauty and comfort. Yes, utility is frequently emphasized, but sometimes it seems over-emphasized for fear of losing gardener “status” based on the preferences that are politically popular.
While it is true that not all environments are conducive to traditional lawns, there is are many reasons that lawns became traditional in the first place. Having a lawn is not inherently a waste of water or time. Here are a few reasons to love your lawn:
1. The grass in lawns are a verifiable plant. Yup. Grass is not man-made.
2. As a plant, grass does process sunlight and carbon dioxide into oxygen along with the rest of the greenery.
3. Lawns keep weeds under control. Even a half-way tended lawn fills in spaces easily, choking out many other plants that might want to grow there.
4. Lawns control erosion. If you have ever tried to pull grass, you know that their roots are extensive. The grasses used in lawns, in particular, have such a matted root system that it holds onto the dirt with tenacity.
5. Lawns are like growing your own mulch. It grows very reliably and can be harvested every 5 to 7 days during the height of its growing season.
6. Grass is hard to kill. It is robust through changing seasons, harmful chemical applications, and even neglect. The roots will generate hopeful shoots at the first chance, and try to fill in any adjacent area that seems to be lacking plant cover. Some people may call that invasive, but labeling a plant as invasive is a matter of perspective.
7. Lawns are great for social and athletic activities. No other plant cover comes close to being as pleasant to walk on AND able to take the abuse of foot traffic. It is also low enough to the ground to allow for games. Children love to play on lawns.
8. Lawns are durable. It beats the best outdoor carpet for holding up to repeated exposure to the extremes of weather.
9. Time needed to care for a lawn per square foot is considerably less than time needed for a typical garden bed. This is especially important if a yard is relatively large. It has taken some time for my husband to convince me of this, but I now see it to be true.
10. Lawns help control unwanted insect populations. From soaking up potential standing water that might breed mosquitoes to replacing shrubs that would likely harbor blood sucking ticks, lawns help provide an environment that is less hospitable to noxious bugs. If the lawn is kept healthy enough to keep out flowering weeds such as dandelions and clover, then bees are usually not a problem either.
11. Dew loves to settle on the vast surface area of blades of grass in lawn. Depending on the rate of evaporation, this can help bring more water to the soil.
12. Leaf clean up on a lawn can be as easy as mowing the lawn, if you keep up with the leaves and don’t wait until they are all done falling. Stone-like surfaces or garden beds are more complicated to get the leaves out of.
13. Grass grows easily from seed. There are choices about which type of grass to grow into lawn in a given climate, but with some attention to that and choosing an appropriately mild time of year, all that is needed is bare dirt and moisture.
14. Grass seed is relatively inexpensive, thus lawn is an economical way to cover a given area with practical greenery.
15. Lawn is as natural as a mountain meadow. Trees and shade have their place, but who doesn’t love to find an open expanse of grass in the wild? The animals like their meadows. We should feel free to love our own and be glad we can plant them in many places.
We all take care of things, attempting to bring order to our surroundings even though chaos continually encroaches. We trim our hair, vacuum rugs, prune trees. There is nothing so different about mowing a lawn. It is not pointless. It keeps the lawn useful and enjoyable. Along the same lines, we wash clothes, sweep away cobwebs from the house, and clean sinks. This could be compared to keeping weeds out of the lawn. Not everyone does it the same way or with the same attention to details, but doing it is has clear benefits. The chore aspect is there for anything we need or want. So, the next time someone bad-mouths lawns, feel free to speak up and say you love yours.